a tributary by Lillian Sickler


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a tributary

my mother brought me to the ocean the year the parking lot was washed away
she left me on the rocks knowing the tide was coming in
beauty does nothing
—nothing to soothe, they look at you and say, “let’s break this”

I was saved by the fever-tree
                                               fever
say it once say it twice say it seven times such small things should never exist
                                                                                                                                alone
one star is a land one star is a universe
“my first love put lace flowers in my mailbox and three fingers up
                                                                                        my skirt”
I was a feast of gold on a bed of flowers
I said put me in Siberia put me in the river and she did

but my darling you weren’t ever hungry

you wove the delicate things together
you were like eve you named the birds you wept at my table you said
                                                                                                             love and it didn’t hurt
you said love and it didn’t mean bury you said love and

I left
the garden growing in your arms
I threw myself out of paradise I threw us both
                                                                            dear rosemary dear sunflowers dear lilies
we all try to love what we cannot understand you loved me and I
loved you and the breath of air underneath
a hornet’s wings

rivers get their names from origins and ends I dare you to name the river
by its middle by silver minnows by shrinking islands
by the fourth bite of the orange and the color
                                                                            found within its mouth



Lillian Sickler

Lillian Sickler is writer enrolled as a junior at the University of Massachusetts. She is majoring in comparative literature with a concentration in poetry. At the university, Lillian has been incredibly fortunate to have taken classes with Aracelis Girmay, Polina Barskova, and Martin Espada. Her previous poem, “Stars,” was published by Words Dance this past March. Lillian’s great loves, besides poetry, include going grocery shopping, petting frogs, and baking cherry chocolate bomb cake.